"Automatic and semi-automatic weapons have a common safety feature: they will not fire without a clip loaded, empty or not." -Travis
Nineteen years in the
military exposed me to an extensive range of firearms.
Mr. Wahlfeldt is wrong, it's not a clip, but a magazine. And
only a small number of firearms have a trigger lock-out. The
majority will fire without the magazine.
John Parks clarifies, "Not even a fully automatic weapon automatically chambers a round when the clip is inserted. You must manually feed the first bullet into the chamber, for example by pulling back a slide. Once a round is chambered, the gun will fire when the trigger is pulled, with or without a clip. Very few weapons have a lock-out.
(January 23, 1978) Legendary Chicago guitarist Terry Kath was an avid collector of guns. One week before his 32nd birthday, he brought several of his metal friends to a party along with his wife. After the party broke up, he began to play with his guns.
First he spun his .38 revolver on his finger, brought it to his temple, and pulled the trigger. Click! The gun was not loaded. Next he picked up a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol. The host of the party, unamused, asked him to stop. As Terry pulled the magazine from the weapon, he reassured him, "Don't worry it's not loaded." Then Terry raised the pistol and put a bullet through his head in an one-man shootout.
This popular musician and long-time gun enthusiast forgot that an automatic automatically chambers a bullet, so removing the magazine does not disarm the weapon.
His death was classified an inadvertent suicide.
Darren says, "I was injured by a relative who also believed that guns don't free-chamber a round when a magazine is inserted, and who expected trigger-locks to be standard seatbelts. Experience speaks! Although the pistol that burned me was a knock-off, I expect that a similar S&W would do the same. You see, recoil is not the only thing that will displace the breech mechanism to load a round. Depending on the model, inserting a magazine will do that, too. Not that it changes the rule, "Always open the slide to visually inspect the chamber for any remaining cartridges. Simply removing the magazine does not guarantee the firearm is unloaded. A cartridge can remain in the chamber." (From Firearms Primer.)